Born January 17, 1934, in New York, NY; died of pneumonia, August 2, 1998, inLos Angeles, CA. Entertainer and author. Lewis' long show business career began when she was a toddler and started taking piano lessons and learning magic tricks from her father, a university professor and part-time magician. Hermother instilled in Lewis a love of music that she carried with her throughout her life. Lewis took dance, singing and music lessons, adding the violin toher instrumental repertoire. An ankle injury sustained while dancing causedLewis, who was attending and graduated from the High School of Music and Artin Manhattan, to look in another direction for her career in entertainment.
In 1952 she won the Arthur Godfrey television talent contest and in 1957 wasinvited to perform on The Captain Kangaroo Show. A show producer askedLewis if she had any puppets smaller than those she usually used in her performances. She took with her a sock puppet of a lamb that had been lying around and with a few twitches of her hand Lewis' best known creation, Lamb Chop,was born. The delicate, long-lashed puppet was known for her wisecracks and constant interruptions of Lewis but was loved by three generations of fans. Lamb Chop was featured in Lewis' first television show, The Shari Lewis Show, which ran on NBC in the early 1960s as well as on Shari at Six,which ran on the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) in England from 1968 to 1976. Other television shows and specials were aired in the passing decades while Lewis added other much-loved puppets like Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse to her repertoire. Also during that time she ventured into other aspects of entertainment, putting together a Las Vegas act, performing in musicals such as Damn Yankees and Funny Girl, conducting orchestras and writing numerous books.
With more than sixty titles to her name, Lewis' book topics ranged from crafts and magic tricks for children to four volumes of Spooky Stuff, Things Kids Collect, The Do It Better Book, and "one-minute" versions of favoritefairy tales, Greek myths and Bible stories. She returned to television in theearly 1990s with Lamb Chop's Play-Along on PBS. The show was a hit, garnering five Emmys in as many years. Lewis described herself as an older playmate for children and was producing a new television show, The Charlie Horse Music Pizza at the time of her death.
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